‘Support local grain producers’

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The Ulster Farmers’ Union is encouraging livestock farmers and the feed industry in Northern Ireland, to support their local growers and buy homegrown grain as harvest gets underway.

UFU seeds and cereals chairman, David Matthews highlighted that grain harvest is now in full swing across the country.

He added: “After months of planning and having successfully delivered the best possible crop rotation protocols, farms are open for business and are eager to trade locally in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

“Grain is a strong seller and arable farmers are looking towards the possibility of forward selling for the coming months, rather than relying on the spot market which left many of our members in a frustrating predicament previously. I would encourage all growers to speak to their customers and discuss the subject of forward selling. Many buyers are willing to co-operate because thinking long-term and planning ahead benefits them as well.”

Matthews confirmed that weather conditions to date have been favourable, which has had a positive impact on production.

He commented:  “We are producing high-quality grain and the bushel weight has been reported as excellent, which translates into a good feed conversion. Feed utilised on farms, traded from one farm to another or to local mills, is good news for the livestock sector in terms of traceability and farm quality insurance.

“Therefore, I encourage livestock farmers and the Northern Ireland feed industry to support their local growers and conduct business locally. By doing so, they will be supporting their neighbouring farming families, the wider agriculture industry in Northern Ireland and contributing to the care of our rural environment.”

Responding to these comments Northern Ireland Grain Trade Association (NIGTA) chief executive Robin Irvine said that local feed millers are totally committed to working with grain producers in Northern Ireland.

“Growers must be farm quality assured in the first instance,” he said.

“I would also advise farmers to give millers forewarning of grain that they wish to sell. A total of 10,000t of compound animal feed is required to meet total demand in Northern Ireland on a daily basis.

“In order to meet this demand compounders enter into procurement contracts with international suppliers.

“Local supply can only meet a small proportion of the demand that exists in Northern Ireland.”

The NIGTA representative continued: “This is why local supplies must be phased in. Such an approach will also ensure that local growers are not caught in the downward price pressure that exists at harvest time. Prices will, very probably, harden as the feeding season progresses.”

Irvine pointed out that maize prices had been out of kilter with traditional market trends over recent times.

“Normal service is now starting to be resumed with maize returning to its position at the top of the grain price league, followed by wheat and barley.

“This, in turn, should make wheat the cereal of choice in ruminant rations over the coming winter months. All of this is good news for local grain producers.”